Friday, November 27, 2015

At Least

My grandma is dying of congestive heart failure. As I write this, we have made plans to go see her for what we think will be the last time. I've already (being the planner that I am) come up with things to do while we're there - I'm going to borrow a keyboard and play for her. I'm going to ask her to retell all those stories that I always thought should be written down. We will sing for her, let the dog inside to be loved on by her, entertain her with our antics, and take pictures. Lots of pictures.

It's almost impossible to give you the full essence of who she is through a blog post. She has a magnet on her fridge that reads "showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord" (from Psalm 78). That is probably the best summary I can give, and my aunt's blog post that I read this morning is further proof that she is one of the brightest "lights on a hill" on this earth.

My mother was admitted to a hospital in Pittsburgh that has a reputation for good doctors, but a place I would never recommend.  An old hospital under construction with narrow drab hallways, boring rooms, marked up walls that should have been painted years ago, broken blinds (her middle blind wouldn’t open), and dirty windows.  I had to ask for towels and toiletries, clean up after her because it took over an hour for anyone to respond to my requests, buy her bottled water, and even buy her meal the first night because she was in the emergency room when dinner was served.  The view in front of her bed was primarily trash receptacles and a board with the rarely updated names of her current caregivers and the goal of her visit: “home”.  My sister brought lots of photos and decorations from home on the third day which was wonderful…
My mother’s experience: Every morning she pointed out the “beautiful sunrise” – she is a country girl who is used to seeing the sunrise through trees – this one was over another drab and dirty hospital building.  She enjoyed walking the hospital hallways, admiring how wide they were, and looking out at the city through the window down the hall since there was no view of it from her room.  Mom told me several times how impressed she was with what a great job the cleaning woman did.  She was so kind and friendly to the nurses and aides, even when they came in all night every couple of hours.  One nurse said she was the sweetest patient he’d had. We sat together for hours looking at movies I’ve made of her grandchildren, and pictures from trips we made together as well as my travels.  I even showed pictures from my walk through the nearby park in the afternoons, and she never complained that she could no longer do those things.

Enjoying the sunrise - through a horrible view. Watching Pittsburgh live its life through a window in the hall. Loving the nurses who came to help her, no matter when. Noticing how well cleaned her room was. Admiring how wide the hospital hallways were.

That last one really gets me.

She is finding ways to see the good in where she is. By the grace of God, she has found it, too.

To me, this is a huge lesson to learn. She, as I know from numerous phone calls, emails, and texts, was very uncomfortable, thanks to the fluid building up in her lungs and the general discomfort of a heart that no longer will cooperate. Yet she saw an "at least" - which is what she always does - in everything.

Nasty, ugly buildings? At least I can see the sunrise - and God did such a great job on it, too.

Look, Deborah, the cleaning lady did such a great job today! This is so nice!

Pictures from the walk my daughter took, that I can't do anymore? At least she's here with me and I get to spend time with her.

So I am going to start looking for "at leasts". Because we just celebrated Thanksgiving. We were grateful for what we had - stomach bugs and colds changed our plans and so we cooked a big dinner at home and had a sweet, snowy day with just the six of us. Because we have so much. Because, no matter what we do or don't have, we have victory in Jesus, which never changes.

Dirty dishes on one side of the counter? At least we had the food to make them dirty.

An annoying sibling that won't stop? At least I have him/her in my life.

Snowy paw prints on the (freshly mopped) floor? At least we have this bundle of joy we call a dog.

My beloved grandma is sick and getting ready to leave us?

At least I get to see her one more time.